Top 6 Vitamins to Help With Weight Loss & Boost Metabolism

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan | Updated on 15 December 2021

With so many companies pushing health supplements, it can be hard to determine what vitamins help with weight loss and what supplements actually work. At a basic level, vitamins are essential nutrients necessary for regulating your bodily functions across a wide variety of areas. You might, fondly or not, remember taking them as a kid in the form of gummies or chewables. 

In total, there are 13 essential vitamins that you’d be surprised to learn they are tied to your metabolic processes and can affect weight loss or weight gain. Typically, a deficiency in these vitamins will be responsible for weight gain or slow metabolism, which you can remedy by increasing your intake. All necessary vitamins can be obtained through regular food consumption. 

Generally, it’s better to obtain them that way than to get them from supplements, though if you’re vegetarian, you may need to do so when it comes to vitamins like B12 [1]. Getting your vitamins through eating can also help indirectly contribute to weight loss, as vitamin-rich foods provide other essential nutrients and substances like dietary fiber.

The vitamins or minerals covered below are a few shown in research studies to have connections to weight loss and boosting your metabolism, so you should consider adding foods rich in them to your diet.  

1.Vitamin D & Solar Therapy

Perhaps one of the easiest vitamins to obtain, vitamin D is responsible for maintaining bone health and managing the body’s levels of other nutrients like calcium and phosphorus; however, it also has functions across the entire body [2]. One of these seems to be energy regulation [3]. People struggling with obesity have been shown to have vitamin D deficiency, which can compound many other problems that obesity can bring on, such as insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease [2].

It’s still unclear whether vitamin D deficiency directly causes weight gain or whether it merely contributes to the effects of obesity [3]. Either way, there is undoubtedly vitamin D deficiency among people struggling with obesity, and the lifestyle habits of obese people strongly contribute to a lack of vitamin D and other adverse health effects [3].

Making changes to your diet and activity to incorporate more vitamin D can make you healthier overall. The easiest way is to go outside, as your body uses sunlight to produce more vitamin D. Getting exercise, from even just moderate activities like walking for a half-hour each day, can increase your vitamin D intake, burn calories, and improve your cardiovascular fitness. Try adding new, vitamin D-rich foods to your diet too. The goal should be to get around 15 mcg per day. Some examples are:

  • Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

2. B Vitamins and Their Many Benefits

There are eight B vitamins, all important for your body’s metabolism. They are:

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B12
  • Folic acid [4]

They’re responsible for taking your body’s stored energy (i.e., fat) in the form of nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and turning them into energy. Grouped, they’re called B-Complex vitamins, and you can usually find supplements that provide all eight in one pill.

Since the B vitamins are directly related to metabolism, their relationship to boosting it is more or less undeniable; your metabolism requires them. Regarding weight loss, one study on rats showed significant reductions in weight gain among rats given vitamin B supplements [5]. The rats given the full range of B-complex vitamins had the most significant weight loss, but even those dosed with only some B-complex, such as niacin or riboflavin, still had reductions in weight gain [5]. In humans, the same pattern would likely be true; increasing your intake of B-complex vitamins can boost your metabolism and help with weight loss.

B vitamins are found primarily in animal products, such as

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy

Some leafy green vegetables also contain B vitamins. For the most part, they’re not hard to include in your diet, but if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you might have some troubles getting enough B12, per the Office of Dietary Supplements [6]. B12 is only available in animal products, so people who avoid consuming those will need to take B12 supplements or risk developing conditions like anemia [6]. Besides boosting your metabolism, B12 can also make you feel more energetic throughout your day.

3. Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a role in vision, the immune system, and a variety of organs like the lungs and heart [7]. It contributes to growth and development, and research has shown a connection between Vitamin A and regulation of the thyroid [8]. The thyroid is a gland responsible for distributing hormones throughout your bloodstream; sometimes, the thyroid fails to produce enough of these hormones, which can cause weight gain and other symptoms, like fatigue. This is a condition called hypothyroidism, and it’s pretty common in Americans.

A study on premenopausal women examined whether increasing vitamin A could help reduce or prevent sub-clinical (aka mild) hypothyroidism among obese women [8]. The study found that supplemental vitamin A was effective in significantly reducing the risk and effect of hypothyroidism, which would reduce weight gain [8]. If you’ve been having problems with unexpected weight gain, it’s possible hypothyroidism could be the culprit, and increasing your vitamin A intake could help to neutralize it. Of course, you should talk to your doctor as well if you’re experiencing hypothyroidism symptoms.

You can supplement your vitamin A intake by trying to get to the recommended daily value, which is 900 mcg for adult men and 700 mcg for adult women [7]. Like with other vitamins, the best way to get more vitamin A is through food or drink. Vitamin A comes in two different forms depending on the source:

  • Preformed vitamin A: found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products
  • Provitamin A: found in fruits and vegetables [7]

Either form will work for boosting your metabolism and helping your thyroid gland, though be careful not to overdo it. More than 3,000 mcg of preformed vitamin A per day can be toxic, leading to severe or even fatal symptoms. Provitamin A is not a cause for concern, though. The only effect of taking too much of it is that you may turn a little orange (provitamin A is also known as beta-carotene, the chemical responsible for carrots being orange).

4. Vitamin C Helps Burns Off Weight

Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant responsible for cleaning up free radicals, building up collagen, and helping the immune system stay strong [9]. Vitamin C can also boost metabolism, causing the body to oxidize or burn more fat during exercise [10]. One study found that even with moderate exercise, people with increased levels of vitamin C oxidized as much as 30% more fat than people with lower levels, suggesting that a lack of vitamin C can prevent people from losing weight [10]. So, if you’re already trying some exercise every day (which is good for losing weight and boosting your metabolism anyway), you could enhance your weight loss gains a lot just by getting more vitamin C.

The recommended daily value of vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women, and it’s pretty easy to get. Vegetarians and vegans should be happy with this, as vitamin C is found primarily in plants rather than meat.

Some great sources include:

Adults should avoid getting more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day, as it can cause nausea, diarrhea, and an over-storage of iron [9].

5. Supplement Your Muscles With Iron

While not a vitamin, iron is still a vital nutrient that can boost your metabolism. It’s responsible for ensuring your blood carries enough oxygen and is getting that oxygen into your muscles [11]. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, if you don’t get enough iron, it means your muscles won’t work as efficiently, so they won’t burn off as much fat during exercise as they might otherwise [11].

You can get iron from animal and plant sources, though if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll need to get twice the recommended amount, as plant sources of iron aren’t absorbed as well as iron from animal sources [11]. Common sources of iron in food are:

  • meat
  • fish
  • white beans
  • lentils [11]

You can even kill two birds with one stone and increase your iron intake by ingesting it alongside vitamin C-rich foods, which help iron absorb into your body in higher amounts [11].

The recommended daily value for iron is 8 mg for men and 18 mg for women, though for adults over 51, the recommended amount is only 8 mg [11]. As with other nutrients, too much can harm you. Avoid getting more than 45 mg per day, so you don’t have to worry about adverse effects [11].

6. Get More Magnesium

Another necessary mineral, magnesium, is responsible for energy production. It gets used in hundreds of different ways all over your body and has connections to weight loss and metabolism as well. One study found that increasing magnesium intake led to reduced BMI and waist circumference and lessened sensitivity to glucose [12]. Magnesium is believed to have a host of other benefits, including reducing the risk of developing diabetes, preventing migraines, and even reducing mental health issues like anxiety [13].

The recommended daily intake for magnesium is 400-420 mg for men and 310-320 mg for women. It’s found naturally in most foods, including:

  • legumes
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • leafy greens
  • grains
  • dairy products [13]

Can Vitamins Really Help With Weight Loss?

Absolutely. Vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as other nutrients like iron and magnesium, all have sound research behind them, indicating connections to losing weight and boosting your metabolism. Getting adequate amounts of these vitamins in your daily diet is excellent for you, not just because of the vitamins themselves but also because the foods rich in these nutrients are good for you to begin with. Making healthy foods like fish, lean meats, leafy greens, nuts, and other fruits and vegetables regular staples of your diet ensures you will get plenty of vitamins and other healthy nutrients.

When deciding on what vitamins help with weight loss, there are a few things to be careful of. As mentioned above, it is possible to get too many of specific vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A or iron. While excessive doses of some might only make you sick, others can cause severe harm or even death. It’s essential to keep in mind that these are, at a basic level, chemicals. Too much can hurt you, so be sure to stick to the daily recommended values.

Can Other Weight Loss Supplements Help Boost Metabolism?

You may have seen people touting the benefits of other weight loss supplements, such as green tea or green coffee extract, chitosan, and bitter orange. These and many others represent some of the new health “supplements” that are presented as being remarkably effective in treating things like weight loss. Unfortunately, the science behind many of these substances is not as straightforward as for the well-known essential vitamins and minerals discussed above. In some cases, these supplements may actually be harmful.

Green tea extract is energizing, but that’s an effect of its high caffeine content, not any metabolism-boosting effects [14]. 

Bitter orange, also known as synephrine, is another supplement that has become more popular in recent years for its weight loss benefits. It too has little clinical evidence to support this, and the FDA has issued warnings that bitter orange can cause elevated heart rates, blood pressure, and anxiety [15]. In fact, bitter orange became popular as a substitute for another supplement known as ephedra, which the FDA had banned due to its severe side effects, including heart attack, seizures, and death [16].

This isn’t meant to scare you about weight loss supplements, but it is wise to be cautious whenever trying new ones. Generally, adding vitamins and minerals to your diet and keeping them at the recommended daily values won’t be harmful, especially if you’re getting them primarily through food.

However, changing anything about your diet can be risky, so talk to a doctor before making any significant changes, especially if the science behind it is still in doubt. When adding something new, check sites like the FDA’s Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List, which informs consumers of what ingredients to avoid in health supplements [17]. Also, check out this article on some research-backed supplements with tangible benefits.

Vitamins Can Help You Lose Weight and Achieve Better Health

The 13 essential vitamins and the essential minerals are necessary for a reason; they’re all tied to numerous aspects of your body’s functioning. You can’t go without any of them and making sure you’re getting the recommended daily values of each can impact your health in more ways than can be explained here.

With knowing what vitamins help with weight loss, figure out some new meal plans that incorporate foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Since they occur in a wide variety of foods, you shouldn’t have any problem making up some tasty, healthy dishes. Don’t neglect other factors that can help you boost your metabolism, too, such as getting daily exercise and spending time outdoors. As explained above, some vitamins like vitamin D and C are best paired with physical activity and sunlight.

Losing weight and reaching your metabolism goals requires a multi-faceted approach, so don’t miss out on easy wins such as vitamins and other supplements. 

References

[1] National Institute On Aging. 1 January 2021. Vitamins and Minerals For Older Adults. Health. 22 November 2021. Web. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals-older-adults

[2] Vranić, L., Mikolašević, I., & Milić, S. (2019). Vitamin D Deficiency: Consequence or Cause of Obesity?. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 55(9), 541. 22 November 2021. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina55090541 

[3] Mason, Caitlin; Xiao, Liren; Imayama, Ikuyo; Duggan, Catherine; Wang, Ching-yun; Korde, Larissa; McTiernan, Anne. Vitamin D3 supplementation during weight loss: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 99, Issue 5, May 2014, Pages 1015–1025. 22 November 2021. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.073734 

[4] MedlinePlus. B Vitamins. Health Topics. 22 November 2021. Web. https://medlineplus.gov/bvitamins.html

[5] Zheng, Y., Ma, A. G., Zheng, M. C., Wang, Q. Z., Liang, H., Han, X. X., & Schouten, E. G. (2018). B Vitamins Can Reduce Body Weight Gain by Increasing Metabolism-related Enzyme Activities in Rats Fed on a High-Fat Diet. Current medical science, 38(1), 174–183. 22 November 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11596-018-1862-9

[6] Office of Dietary Supplements. 7 July 2021. Vitamin B12. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. 22 November 2021. Web. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/

[7] Office of Dietary Supplements. 14 January 2021. Vitamin A. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. 22 November 2021. Web. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/

[8] Farhangi, M. A., Keshavarz, S. A., Eshraghian, M., Ostadrahimi, A., & Saboor-Yaraghi, A. A. (2012). The effect of vitamin A supplementation on thyroid function in premenopausal women. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 31(4), 268–274. 22 November 2021. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2012.10720431

[9] Office of Dietary Supplements. 22 March 2021. Vitamin C. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. 22 November 2021. Web. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

[10] Johnston C. S. (2005). Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 24(3), 158–165. 22 November 2021. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2005.10719460

[11] Office of Dietary Supplements. 22 March 2021. Iron. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. 22 November 2021. Web. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/

[12] Castellanos-Gutiérrez, A., Sánchez-Pimienta, T.G., Carriquiry, A. et al. 5 December 2018. Higher dietary magnesium intake is associated with lower body mass index, waist circumference and serum glucose in Mexican adults.  Nutr J 17, 114 (2018). 22 November 2021. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-018-0422-2 

[13] Office of Dietary Supplements. 22 March 2021. Magnesium. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. 22 November 2021. Web. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/

[14] Cleveland Clinic. 23 July 2018. Green Tea Extract: Pros and Cons For Energy, Weight Loss, and More. Weight Loss. 22 November 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/green-tea-extract-a-better-way-to-boost-energy-or-not/

[15] Pawar RS; Sagi S; Leontyev D. 7 June 2020. Analysis of bitter orange dietary supplements for natural and synthetic phenethylamines by LC-MS/MS. Scientific Publications By FDA Staff. 22 November 2021. Web. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/publications/search_result_record.cfm?id=66335

[16] WebMD. 22 July 2020. 11 Supplements and Herbs for Weight Loss Explained. Vitamins and Supplements. 22 November 2021. Web. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/herbal-remedies

[17] Food and Drug Administration. 29 October 2021. Dietary Supplement Ingredient List. Dietary Supplements. 22 November 2021. Web. https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplement-products-ingredients/dietary-supplement-ingredient-advisory-list

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.